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$1,820,000 from NSF awarded to Rutgers-Newark to acquire fMRI dedicated to research

The last couple decades have seen a virtual renaissance of neuroscience discovery, largely aided by the advanced technology of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Thanks to a recently awarded grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), scholars at Rutgers University will have the latest fMRI technology on site to aid their research.

The NSF has awarded Rutgers University in Newark a $1,820,000 grant to acquire the Siemens Trio 3T MRI scanner. The new scanner will be housed in the Aidekman building (Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience - CMBN) at Rutgers University in Newark, where it will be available for research throughout all three Rutgers campuses commencing early January 2011. The new center will be called the Rutgers Brain Imaging Center (RUBIC) in order to emphasize its university-wide access and support.

Functional MRI scans measure the change in blood flow related to neural activity in the brain. Dominating the brain mapping field since the early 1990s, fMRIs represent a minimally- invasive technology that allows for precise measurement of the source and destination of major neural pathways and provides insight into which areas of the brain are activated when processing information, imagining or recalling events or feelings, or performing specific tasks. Functional MRI is also providing a new method for evaluating how the brain learns across development and declines with aging and how it may change with novel intervention strategies.

"An fMRI here at Rutgers will allow the university to contribute to the scientific community on a level equal to other prestigious research institutions," notes Stephen J. Hanson, professor of psychology. "Given our close proximity to other institutions, we will ensure the fMRI is readily accessible to researchers not just from Rutgers but from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the Kessler Foundation Research Center."

Hanson was the principal investigator of the grant proposal to NSF. The co-principal investigators were Mauricio Delgado, assistant professor of psychology, and Bart Krekelberg, assistant professor at CMBN. Hanson will serve as RUBIC director.

Representative projects at Rutgers University in Newark include: 1) research on early neural mechanisms necessary for normal cognitive and language development; 2) human motion perception and its deficits in autism; 3) large scale decoding functions in the brain "brain reading"; and 4) control/regulation of human emotions to facilitate learning and decision-making.

Scholars at Rutgers-Newark using an fMRI scanner in their research include: Mauricio Delgado, Stephen Hanson, Kent Harber, Barry Komisaruk, Vanessa LoBue, Maggie Shiffrar, and Elizabeth Tricomi of the Department of Psychology; and April Benasich, Gyorgy Buzsaki, Mark Gluck, Bart Krekelberg, and Paula Tallal of CMBN.


Contact: Helen Paxton
Rutgers University

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